This project follows on from the Fellfoot Forward Whole Farm Carbon Pilot (part of the Heritage Funded Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme) In December 2021 in partnership with The Farmer Network we worked with five farms and calculated their carbon footprint using The Farm Carbon Toolkit . We chose to work with the farm carbon Toolkit because it’s free to use, has been created by farmers for farmers and because it takes a whole farm approach to emissions and sequestration with a focus on soil health.
When we discuss “carbon” we are actually referring to CO2e or carbon dioxide equivalent which is a measure of the three main greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Carbon is used as a term to encapsulate all three of these gases under one metric so we can compare items such as fuel alongside the biological systems seen in livestock on a like for like basis.
The toolkit supports farmers in measuring their baseline carbon impact and looks at practical actions that can maximise carbon sequestration. This can be done through improved soil organic matter (SOM), tree and hedgerow planting which improves shelter belts, flood resilience management and sequestration. Reduced fertiliser usage leads to fewer nitrous oxide emissions. Efficient farm machinery and vehicle usage can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and an improved stock management model can impact on methane emissions.
Farmers were asked to collect and input a variety of data associated with their business into the calculator which stores the info and can be updated as changes are made on an annual basis. This provides evidence on what to prioritise from a carbon and cost saving perspective and allows then to explore how changes to their management practices can reduce emissions.
During the pilot, a few things were identified to be missing from the overall picture. Our team at CAfS wanted to support farmers to explore renewable energy and energy efficiency for their farms and farmhouses and these were not included in the toolkit.